To ensure that soldiers respect international humanitarian law (IHL) and avoid violations during operations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has trained 24 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
The training, organized by the ICRC and the office of the Chief of Training of the AFL, was held at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks outside Monrovia for four days, according to an ICRC release
“Under the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols, every army is required to teach IHL,” said Julien Lerisson, head of the ICRC delegation in Liberia.
“While the ICRC cannot substitute for the army in this regard, it can provide support, drawing on its experience and knowledge as a guardian and promoter of IHL,” the release said.
The ICRC helps the AFL set up programs for teaching IHL and integrating it into doctrine, drills and field exercises.
“The AFL welcomes the ICRC’s support. The training will increase the national and international credibility of the soldiers and enable them to understand their responsibilities and legal obligations in the conduct of hostilities,” said Brigadier General Daniel D. Zainkahn, AFL Chief of Staff.
Brigadier General Zainkahn said as a “Force for Good” all AFL personnel must be cognizant of laws that govern armed conflicts.
In order to enhance the legal capacity of the AFL, one of the participating officers has been sponsored by the ICRC to continue his IHL training at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy. On his return, the soldier is expected to run the AFL’s IHL program.
IHL is a body of international law also known as the law of armed conflicts that protects people who do not or no longer participate in hostilities. It also protects civilian property and restricts the methods and means of warfare that parties to a conflict can use.
The ICRC has worked with the Liberian army for ten years to spread knowledge of IHL and develop the capacity of AFL personnel, some of whom now serve as IHL trainers in the army.